Have you set goals for your law practice?
From a big picture perspective, all three choices are valid. What they lack is a reasonable chance of success.
You can greatly improve the odds of achieving your goals by taking these three simple steps:
- Create measurable goals
- Write your goals down!
- Be accountable
Create Measurable Goals
If your goals and objectives aren’t measurable, how will you know if you succeeded? It’s easy to say “I want to grow my client base,” because this statement can mean so many different things: you want to increase revenues, open more client files, or start taking on clients in a new area of law. Perhaps keeping your goals fuzzy is a way of feeding a tendency to procrastinate or avoid identifiable failure ….
If you want to grow your client base, start by articulating what this means to you.
Let’s say your goal this year is to increase new client retention by 10%. Start by assessing your success in converting clients (new clients interviewed vs. new clients who retain you as their lawyer). If your conversion rate is less than 75%, it is time for introspection and some retooling. What issues are you facing?
- Do you need to bolster your confidence? Finding support through peer groups or counseling may make a big difference.
- Perhaps you need to learn more about a specific area of law so clients are assured of your knowledge. Contact the Oregon State Bar and Professional Liability Fund. Access OSB BarBooks, download PLF Forms, attend CLEs, join Bar Sections, and read pertinent publications.
- Maybe you can benefit from polishing interviewing skills or learning more about client needs? Find a mentor, reach out to colleagues, search this blog for posts on client relations and marketing – there are a ton of resources available in this area if you ask. It may be as simple as observing your mentor or asking her to sit in on your client interviews (screen for conflicts; get client permission).
Identify the challenges – there may be several – then dial down. Create a series of measurable steps to help you achieve your goal of increasing client retention by 10%. Be concrete and set time limitations. Here is an example:
Continue developing additional specific, measurable steps you can take to improve client retention.
Write Your Goals Down!
If you don’t mind a success rate hovering around 43%, then talking or thinking about your goals is a good way to go. If you prefer to do better than that, write your goals down.
Putting pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) is an inescapable part of making your goals more real, concrete, and achievable. You can improve your chances even more by keeping your goals visible: a sheet kept on your desk, a series of post-its on a bathroom mirror, or saving a screen grab to your desktop or mobile device.
The act of writing is, in itself, a process of mental transformation. If you don’t believe me, just Google “why is writing down goals important?” and scan through the myriad of results. Here is the best explanation, IMHO. By the way, science backs this up. Writing down your goals and sharing them with a friend will increase your rate of success from 43% to 62%.
Being accountable to others is success on steroids! The Dominican University of California conducted a study on strategies for achieving goals. By including the additional step of sending a weekly progress report to a friend, 76% of study participants accomplished their goals, or were at least half-way there, in a four-week period. Wow!
So if I write a text or email to a friend,
“Hi Sheila, I’m setting goals for my law practice this year. One of my objectives is to read the OSB Family Law BarBook cover-to-cover by June 1. I need you to hold me accountable for getting this done. Can I send you weekly progress reports?”
and my friend holds me to my promise of sending weekly progress reports, there is a 76% likelihood I will follow through? I’m on board! Naturally you can buddy-up on this idea: find a colleague with whom you can exchange goals and weekly progress reports. You will both benefit by holding the other accountable.
Get underway with the process of goal setting, marketing plans, and business development by accessing the great resources available on the PLF website. Choose Practice Management, then Forms. Under “filter by category,” select “Marketing.”
All Rights Reserved – Beverly Michaelis – 2016.
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